The sporting week ahead (26/05/13)

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The Independent Online


Yesterday's qualifying aside, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of Formula One's more boring creations. Qualify on pole position and you are bound to win, barring some self-inflicted disaster. But this year's ongoing kerfuffle over tyres means it could be less, er, tiresome, so it might not be a procession for pole-sitter Nico Rosberg this afternoon. In football, Celtic will be looking to beat Hibernian to secure their easiest Double yet. Not that this will trouble too many of their supporters. In Paris, the French Open tennis starts with the fit-again Rafa Nadal looking to bag yet another title. It is starting to look as predictable as, well, the Monaco GP.


Crystal Palace know how to win Wembley play-offs – and lose them – so it is no use looking to history to predict the outcome against Watford. The only certainty is that it will be Wilfried Zaha's final game for the Eagles before he departs for Manchester United. If nothing else, he could do with impressing new manager David Moyes.


With the Lions about to roar, England's tour to Argentina looks one for the pussycats. But Stuart Lancaster's side leave today hoping to earn some stripes.


Tonight's Wembley friendly has been a long time in the making, because the last time England and the Republic of Ireland met, football finished a distant second to the disgraceful scenes of fan violence in Dublin. So given that, in a football sense, so little hangs on tonight's result, let's hope that after 18 years puerile chanting is kept to a minimum. The visitors are not the feisty force of old and Giovanni Trapattoni is under pressure after a faltering World Cup qualifying campaign. In rugby union, the odds favour Newcastle securing their return to the Aviva Premiership at the expense of Bedford in today's Championship play-off second leg.


With New Zealand here and the Ashes ahead, no one seems to be paying too much attention to cricket's upcoming Champions Trophy. But it is almost upon us, and the warm-ups begin today in Birmingham with Pakistan against Sri Lanka.


But before the Champions Trophy England have a one-day international series against New Zealand to fit in. The first game is today at Lord's.


The British and Irish Lions kick off their tour with a game in Hong Kong against the Barbarians while, in cricket, Australia play a warm-up against West Indies in Cardiff.